“We don’t have time for zingers!” says Count Dracula (Adam Sandler) midway through “Hotel Transylvania 2.” No time for zingers, indeed. The sequel to the 2012 kid friendly animated horror comedy is short on laughs but long on sentiment.
Like all of Sandler’s movies—no matter how outrageous the characters—the new one is all about family. It picks up after Drac’s daughter, vampiress Mavis (voice of Selena Gomez) married human Jonathan (Andy Samberg). In a twist on “Twilight,” the vampire mother and human father soon have a child, Dennis (Asher Blinkoff). The question is, which side of the family will it take after, the monster or human?
“Human. Monster. Unicorn. As long as you’re happy,” Drac says to his daughter, while secretly hoping the child will inherit the vampire genes. On the eve of the child’s fifth birthday the boy still hasn’t shoed any signs of vampiric behaviour—“He’s not human,” says the Prince of Darkness, “he’s just a late fanger!”—so Drac and friends—Frankenstein (Kevin James), Wayne the Werewolf (Steve Buscemi), the Invisible Man (David Spade) and Murray the Mummy (Keegan-Michael Key)—take Dennis to their old haunts to teach him their scary skills.
“Hotel Transylvania 2” features great kid friendly monsters designs (that will make equally cool toys) like zombie bellhops and Blobby, a gelatine creature that looks like Grandma’s Gazpacho Aspic come to life but the creativity that went into the creatures didn’t extend to the script.
It’s a sweet enough, amiable story about acceptance and family, but the jokes barely rise to the level of the “101 Halloween Jokes for Kids” book I had when I was ten-years-old. If calling Murray the Mummy “talking toilet paper” makes you giggle, then perhaps this is for you, but by the time they have explained why Drac is called “Vampa” for the second time, you get the idea that Sandler and co-writer Robert Smigel know they should have driven a stake through the heart of this script.
The appearance of Mel Brooks as Great Vampa Vlad simply brings to mind “Young Frankenstein,” one of the funniest horror comedies of all time.
The biggest laughs come from the background, the sight gags that keep things visually frenetic in the first hour.
“Hotel Transylvania 2’s” family friendly scares won’t give kids any nightmares, but it won’t make them laugh either.